Global or Local Identity? A Theoretical Analysis of the Role of Viacom on Identity Formation among Children in an International Context

By Moran, Kristin C.; Chung, Leeva C. | Global Media Journal, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Global or Local Identity? A Theoretical Analysis of the Role of Viacom on Identity Formation among Children in an International Context


Moran, Kristin C., Chung, Leeva C., Global Media Journal


Abstract

Children around the world are growing up in a globalized environment influenced by many factors such as the internet, cell phones, and pop culture. One significant influence is the internationalization of television programming and as children's exposure to programs that originate in the United States increases it will undoubtedly impact how they understand themselves and their environment. The purpose of this essay is to explore the intersection among identity, globalization, and television. A case study into the internationalization of global media companies is Viacom Inc., which can be seen as a dominant source of global value orientation and a powerful contributor to the formation of an ambiguous identity among children and teenagers. We argue that new generations of children are developing a third identity - a fusion of local and global - an identity that transcends traditional ethnic and cultural boundaries.

Introduction

In an era marked by a borderless, interconnected global economy, the result has been a truly integrated and accelerated communication across time and space. Between the force of global economic independence and electronic information this accelerated change makes the world, "...a burgeoning hybrid of cultures" (Rosen, Digh, Singer, & Phillips, 2000, p. 22). In this new global world, much of current literature has focused on the impact of media, economy, and business. The challenge, however, is to understand how children's perceptions of self and others may or may not be affected by the fusion of global and local culture.

Children around the world are growing up in a globalized environment influenced by many factors such technology, pop culture, and the world wide web. One significant force on the development of their identity is the internationalization of television programming. Since the deregulation of the audiovisual sector in many parts of the world during the 1980s, television systems have moved further away from a public service agenda and closer toward national level privatization. In addition, the expansion of satellites has given way to the growth of transnational networks available to young audiences in an international context. As Western based television genres saturate the global marketplace, children's exposure to programs that originate in the United States will undoubtedly impact how they understand themselves and their environment. In fact, Banergee (2002) describes the reach of American television noting, "in every country in the world, American television programmes and films adorn screens. Whether it be in the remote villages in India or in the kampongs of Malaysia, American and Western cultural icons and content make their overbearing presence felt" (p. 517). Globally, children interact with the symbols they see on television and incorporate these experiences into their daily reality. New generations of children are developing a third identity-a fusion of local and global - an identity that transcends traditional ethnic/cultural boundaries.

The purpose of this essay is to critically examine how identity has intersected with globalization, affecting the identity development of children in international contexts. As a case study, this paper will discuss Viacom's history and impact on the global market, provide understanding of identity development, and explore Viacom's role in the formation of a third identity.

Viacom's International Expansion

As one of the most aggressive international media corporations, Viacom, Inc. has made global growth and dominance its top priority. In 2005, Viacom CEO, Sumner Redstone, divested some of its media holdings, including the CBS network, creating an altered corporate structure, which now includes Viacom, Inc. and the CBS Corporation with separate governing boards. As a result of the split, Redstone remains the CEO of both corporations. The main focus of CBS Corp is broadcast television, radio and publishing. …

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